Listen to this article
Walking to Hollywood, by Will Self, Bloomsbury RRP£17.99, 432 pages
For Will Self, walking is an act of rebellion, taking the path most travelled. He avoids the routes prescribed by city planners, worming his way into the spaces between.
The three walks in this surreally fictionalised memoir find him reliably off piste. In “Very Little”, the story of his uneasy friendship with a sculptor called Sherman Oaks provides the context for a schlep from Toronto airport into the city. “Walking to Hollywood” finds him trying to find out who killed the movies, a quest that turns him into an extra in his own Hollywood movie and brings him face to face with Scooby Doo and pretty much every A-lister. Less manic, “Spurn Head” traces a journey along the fast-eroding cliffs of East Yorkshire before they crumble into the sea.
Mortality and the fragility of the self (or perhaps the Self) are the connecting motifs. But, as ever, it’s Self’s wilful polymathic inventiveness that – depending on taste – will compel or repel.